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Anxiety and Stress Disorders

Seeking Help for Stress Seizures

07/18/2006

Question:

I have a friend that has been diagnosed with MS. In the last 4 months she has been having seizures which her neurologist says is not related to the MS but are stress seizures. However, recently in the past 7 days she has had 14 seizures even when not experiencing any stress what so ever. Is there something else she should be doing or where can she go for help?

Answer:

Generally speaking, the term "stress seizure" does not have a universally accepted meaning.  Some people use it to describe a true epileptic seizure brought on by physical or emotional stress (but the underlying seizure disorder must be there in order to have a seizure from the stress).  Others mean seizures brought on by physical injury (or stress) to the brain, such as by a car accident or a severe head injury.  Still others may mean "pseudo-seizure," which looks like a seizure to someone watching it, but does not have any electrical changes on EEG during the seizure.  Pseudo-seizures be occur with or be related to emotional or mental problems.

I would encourage your friend to see a neurologist who specializes in epilepsy and seizures.  They may be able to help her sort out what is going on.

Good luck.

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Response by:

Nancy   Elder, MD Nancy Elder, MD
Associate Professor
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati